The role of the Brazilian Plateau (BP) in maintaining the South Atlantic convergence zone (SACZ) has been examined by statistical analysis and numerical experiments. Statistical analysis using 27 years of data showed that the SACZ is most intense when it is over the BP. In this case, low-level cyclonic circulation appears over the southwestern part of the BP and forms westerly flow, which intensifies low-level convergence along the SACZ with northeasterly flow from the Amazon and northerly flow along the western edge of the South Atlantic subtropical high. A vorticity budget analysis indicates that precipitation over the BP that accompanies stretching maintains the cyclonic circulation. Sensitivity experiments using a regional atmospheric model for two different cases indicate that precipitation over the BP plays a dominant role as an atmospheric heat source in maintaining the cyclonic circulation and the SACZ. In model experiments in which rain was stopped around the BP but the topography was kept, the cyclonic circulation disappeared, and the SACZ shifted southward away from its original position. In comparison with a control run, precipitation over the BP was weakened and the SACZ shifted southward in experiments in which the BP was removed or its complex, multiple-valley terrain was smoothed out. The results of this study support the ideas suggested in previous studies (i.e., that the BP has an anchor effect on the SACZ): Precipitation is intensified over the complex terrain of the BP, and mechanisms of conditional instability of the second kind occur between the precipitation over the BP and the cyclonic circulation to its southwest, which intensifies moisture convergence over the plateau.
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